It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s super-entrepreneur! If you have a full-time job and you’re running your small business full-time, it can often feel like you’re in desperate need of magical super-powers to make it all happen. It probably also feels like while you work at one, the other is suffering. Such feelings of struggling to manage both a full-time job and a small business are common – you’re definitely not alone. The good news is that there are some strategies you can use to make the balancing act easier.
- Plan ahead and use a planner. Whether you use a hand-written plan book, an online calendar, or your phone, the first trick to managing your time is to lay your time right out in front of you. Block out your full-time job and any work you need to do outside of your career to maintain success. Be honest with yourself and how much time you will need to complete tasks. Write all of this out like they’re committed appointments. Do the same for your small business – block out the real amount of time you will need to achieve success.
- Block Out Distractions. Once you have these times blocked out for specific activities, do not allow yourself to become distracted. Keep any distractors away from your workspace and respond to any people that you will get back to them in your free time. If you need to put your phone on silent, or set-up an auto-responder, then do that. Use DVR to tape your favorite shows for when you actually have the free time to watch them. If your family distracts you, have an honest conversation with them about what your needs are to be successful and that they need to respect that time.
- Just say no. You will be invited to different events and activities that your heart may not be 100% committed to. Learn the power of “no.” Don’t try to take on more than you’re capable of, and don’t concern yourself with missed opportunities. If something comes up that would really benefit you, or that you truly need to attend, you will know that’s the time to say yes, otherwise, eliminate anything that is creating a blockage from your success.
- Get sleep, drink water, eat nutritiously, and get exercise. You’ve heard it your whole life – the secret to a healthy life is sleep, water, nutrition, and exercise. This is absolutely true when it comes to managing your time. These four factors need to come above everything else because they ensure you will stay healthy. If you deprive yourself of any of these factors, you’re wearing your body down, and when you wear your body down, your brain is foggy and you’re more prone to illness – both of these are detrimental to anything you need to get done. Go ahead and schedule the time to plan your meals and exercise. Even if you’re outdoors and taking a walk during your lunch break, or you walk to work, take the stairs, take a nap after your day job. Your health is the pivotal key to your best self.
- Compartmentalize your time. There are days when you may be more inclined to work on your day job, or days when you just want to work on your small business. You need to compartmentalize by separating these aspects of yourself. Keep focused on one thing at a time until completion.
- Plan ahead for busier times. If you expect your small business to be busier during the holiday season, plan your newsletters, social media posts, etc., ahead of time. You can schedule them to go out when you need them to and it’s one less aspect that you will be cramming.
- Ask for help and outsource/delegate. It’s okay to ask for help. If possible, delegate some of your responsibilities to other people who may be involved. For example, you can ask your spouse/roommate/kids to clean up during a time you really need to work (of course, remember you will have to reciprocate at some point). If you have friends or family who are willing to give you a hand, take them up on the help. You can also hire some help – whether it’s to help you clean your home, package orders, whatever, your time is money and sometimes it’s far worth the money to get that extra help.
- Work smarter, not harder. Utilize technology to take care of tasks that you would normally need to do on your own. For example, you can use Quickbooks to handle your accounting, Hootsuite to manage your social media, Kit as an auto-messenger response system. Instead of handling inventory by hand, utilizing programs such as Shopify or Square to automate this system for you will save you hours of time (and headache).
- Streamline production by minimizing. Whether you’re in direct sales or make your own products, you’re probably always looking to introduce the next new thing. Try to avoid fads and focus on building the brand that you have. As Donna Maria Johnson from the Indie Business Network says: “Stop making stuff and start making money.” Don’t go crazy trying to have every style of every item; pick and choose what sells for your market so you can produce or purchase larger batches of the same items.
- Work through lunch. This tip is a bit controversial, and it really depends on the type of work that you do, but as a teacher, working through lunch means less for me to bring to my home. If you’re in the type of work where you will have to complete whatever you’re doing at home if you don’t finish it there, then I suggest working through lunch. If not, then use your lunch break as a time to go grab a walk.
- Order groceries online. If you can take care of your chores from your desk, why not? This costs a bit extra, but it can save you the time of shopping, packing your car, unpacking your car, etc. Plus, in the long-run, this actually saves me money because I’m less inclined to add random things to my shopping cart.
- Meal prep. If you make a huge meal that you can divide up for your lunches for the week, it can save you the time of trying to figure out what you need to eat every day. I like to make a 8-quart pot of random-vegetable soup. I throw in any leftover veggies and beans I have right into the pot, cook for about an hour, and boom – lunch for both my husband and myself for the entire week.
- Shut off the notifications on your phone. There are dings and rings for every alert in the world, but this can not only be distracting, it can be detrimental to your perception of productivity. For example, you will probably receive upwards of 20-30 emails per day (maybe more, I average around 100 if I include work email). If I stopped to check every email, assuming I spend about 2 minutes per email, that means I am literally wasting 3.33 hours a day just checking my email, not even acting on them. Sign up for a service like Unroll.me, where they will roll-up your non-urgent emails into one daily email, or one weekly email. Or, just unsubscribe to stuff you don’t really need.
I borrowed some of my own ideas from a blog I wrote a couple of years ago. I have some other great tips in that particular post. If you’re interested in reading it, click here.
The main point to remember is checks-and-balances. Don’t overwhelm yourself. When you feel a sense of dread or anxiety, step back and see what you can eliminate from your life to reduce stress.